What is a birth plan?
And how can it guide you to a better birth?
Making a birth plan helps you consolidate in your mind what's important to you and is not intended in any way to undermine the skill, experience and authority of the obstetric team.
A birth plan or wish list is not a set of commands and demands and certainly not a contract or a script. It is merely a list of preferences that you have thought about once you have all the information you need. It is imperative that you realise that these are guidelines and that there are no guarantees in labour. The most important thing you can take into labour is an open mind. Points to consider include the role your partner you will play, the type of pain relief you want and when, eating and drinking in labour, being allowed to adopt any position and the ability to move around, skin-to-skin contact with your baby and early breastfeeding, just to name a few.
Top things to remember for your birth plan:
1. Your birth plan should evolve as your pregnancy progresses.
2. Start the lines of communication early.
3. Ask for assistance and guidance from your childbirth educator.
4. Write down questions as you think of them.
5. Prioritise your options.
6. Choose your language carefully, be polite to whoever will be reading it.
7. Be brief.
8. Be clear.
9. Be confident.
10. Be properly informed.
Birth is unpredictable, so be flexible. Having an open mind is the most important thing and will help you avoid disappointment if things don't go exactly the way you imagined them to. Also, remember you can change your mind at any time, even in the throes of labour.